The most fascinating aspect of science fiction is, undoubtedly, Artificial Intelligence. AI is a technological term used for human-like computer programs that can behave, think and feel the entire emotional spectrum in a way that makes them indistinguishable from living breathing humans. Sometimes these AI’s are shown as physical robots or android beings but a lot of times their brilliance just in software form shines through to make introspective commentary on society. Movies have been hinting at it since Metropolis that was released 90 years ago. And now we are seeing it turn into reality. Here is the list of top AI movies ever. You can watch some of these best Artificial Intelligence movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
10. I, Robot (2004)
This Will Smith starrer is a very mainstream clichéd Hollywood action flick but it does deal with the nuanced issue of life and its meaning. It inculcates the three laws of robotics as prescribed by the great sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov into its story and dissects every word in them. Its problem lies in the outrageousness of the action especially near the end but it remains an enjoyable movie.
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9. A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Made by Steven Spielberg, this is a heart wrenching movie starring Haley Joel Osment as David, the cybernetic piece of technology. David is the first of his kind to feel emotions after he is adopted by a woman whose real son suffers from an incurable disease. The boy is preserved in a cryogenic vault to halt the progression of his disease till science can find a cure for his disease. In the meantime, David forms a human bond of love for his mother and becomes indistinguishable from a human. But his life changes radically when her son comes home after being cured. The movie is held together with the brilliant performances in it and accentuated by the relatable human feelings.
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8. The Iron Giant (1999)
This movie is a work of art. It uses fairly common themes like those in ‘E.T. The Extraterrestrial’ but it brings it all together into a beautiful movie focusing on the bond of friendship that forms between a giant alien robot and a young boy. In their struggle against the army who sees the giant as a threat, this bond of friendship grows to reveal the sophisticated intelligence of the giant. It may be alien technology but it is a form of artificial intelligence too.
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7. Blade Runner (1982)
This is the prime example of a visual masterpiece also being a catalyst of intense thought. Deckard, has been tasked with terminating four replicants, android beings that look exactly like humans, who have escaped from an off-world colony. ‘Blade Runner’ makes the viewers question reality, the meaning of life and what it means to be human.
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6. Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
After the failed attempt at killing Sarah Connor, the Skynet sends a more advanced robot, the T-1000 back in time to kill John Connor. But another terminator is also sent back from the future to protect Sarah and John Connor. This movie took the creative genius of ‘The Terminator’ forward with a brilliant sequel. The terminator is more human in his approach and more intelligent. The world in the Terminator franchise is the one we have all had nightmares about with every step in the development of AI. The influence of the themes alluded to in the movie goes to show the brilliance of James Cameron at his art.
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5. Her (2013)
The technology shown in ‘Her’ is at the cusp of becoming reality. The virtual assistants in our smart-phones are already learning more about us every day and adapting to suit our personalities. We may be just a few years from falling in love with the voice in our phones just like Theodore does in this Spike Jonze masterpiece. Samantha has a personality and even emotions that are not just mimicked templates but feel genuine. The connection feels true and very normal. The OS even starts questioning its existence and the lack of its physical existence. The brilliant new take on romance is elevated by career best performances by Scarlett Johansson and Joaquin Phoenix. The movie makes a commentary on the world we will soon inhabit and if we really want to get there.
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4. Wall- E (2008)
This movie is as much a philosophical journey into the sentient robots as it is a simple animated story for children. The main characters are all sentient in different ways. The titular Wall-E has become intelligent based on the tokens of human civilizations like Rubik’s cubes and light bulbs. Through his curiosity, he has gained sentience. Eve on the other hand, remains fairly stuck to her code and “directive”. But through the clumsy yet lovable Wall-E, she too revels in a deeper emotion of love. And then there is the villain of the movie who is clearly inspired by Hal from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. It’s a great starting point to thinking about what differentiates robots from humans.
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3. Ex Machina (2014)
A criminally underrated movie, ‘Ex Machina’ is the pinnacle of thoughtful science fiction. It starts with Caleb, a programmer being selected to meet the genius owner of the company he works at. Caleb is tasked to perform the Turing test, which is supposed to prove the existence of artificial intelligence in a machine. While performing the test, it begs the viewers to answer the questions posed to a computer. And in these questions, the viewer is transfixed by the meaning of having a life. Every piece of dialogue serves as a philosophical and psychological puzzle. As the pace builds the viewer is forced to question the authenticity of every statement made and the genuineness of every character. With great performances by Oscar Isaac, Domnhall Gleeson and Alicia Vikander as the only three characters and a great screenplay with fascinating VFX at a modest budget, Ex Machina dares to tread the line of blowing your mind and leaving you with a hangover. The Artificial Intelligence of Ava may not be its most powerful depiction in movies but it is definitely the closest to humans. It may even beg us to wonder if a technological, synthetically created being may be the next step in the evolutionary cycle.
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2. The Matrix (1999)
The Artificial Intelligence depicted in ‘The Matrix’ is arguably the most advanced of all the movies in this list. The machines are powerful enough to create the Matrix to imprison human minds, while they feast on the body heat of the humans. They even create superhuman agents, who are basically computer programs that are capable of keeping hackers like Neo away. It is the sheer power that the machines have over humans that is scary. All the philosophical and satirical undertones supported by iconic action sequences and performances by Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne make this one of the best movies of all time.
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1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
It is a movie about evolution in its truest form. In the first segment we see how intelligence, gained in the presence of a monolith helps apes evolve into proto-humans. Every sighting of the monolith serves as a milestone of human evolution. Hal-9000, aboard the S.S. Discovery is often called the sixth passenger despite being just a computer hinting at its similarity to humans in thinking and decision-making. Hal is even shown defeating a human at chess which was deemed impossible at the time the movie was made. Hal basically throws a curveball to the crew on board and ends up killing all but one of them. Dave, who alone survives beats out Hal in reaching the next step in evolution that is symbolised in another monolith near the moons of Jupiter. The futuristic and stylistic genius of Stanley Kubrick must be commended on the fact that even in 2019, the movie makes us forget that this movie was made at a time when we hadn’t even reached the moon and computers took up entire buildings. The movie is equal parts thoughtful and fictional; perfectly asking questions about sentience, the meaning of life and becomes a landmark sci-fi work and the best movie about Artificial Intelligence.
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